Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Dairy Farm - Syarra

We were in county Kilkenny of Ireland, on a very interesting farm with cows, horses, chickens, and dogs. Yes, that last one is a little out of place but there are dogs. We got this place on Airbnb. The owners of this farm have been renting out a house on the farm for a while now. It was listed as a working farm and it is one.

At seven-ish in the morning and four-ish in the evening, yes -ish, here in Ireland times are always ish, they milk the cows. There are about ninety cows being milked on this farm. And it takes a whole process to milk them. Three mornings in a row and two evenings I went to milk the cows. 
Ready for milking
Working with the cows.

Every day someone does it with us. The process is:
  • Wash the equipment. It can be washed internally by filling water in a sink and having a pipe suck it in and another that blows it out.
  • Get twelve cows in a blocked off area. Twelve is for the number of machines.
    Getting exactly twelve.
  • Spray each cow with anti-bacterial liquid. This I like doing, it is easy and quick. 
  • Attaching the machine.
    Once this is done we put machines on the cows to get the milk out. The milk flows to clear tanks that if you flip a switch goes to a bigger tank. Which goes to a large metal tank that stores it.
    I am attaching the machine.
  • Wait until they stop producing milk, then take off the machine. 
    Removing the machine.
  • Spray again and release. 
  • There are two areas for cows. As this happens you do the other side.
  • Repeat the process until you are done.

    This is the equipment.
That is the process for milking the cows. It take two hours. But do not turn away from whatever device you are reading this on now, this blog post is not at an end!

As I said before, the milk flows to clear tanks that if you flip a switch goes to a bigger tank. Near the end we make sure that the milk does not go to a bigger tank. Once you have a full tank you flip a switch, push a button, and turn a handle and milk pours from a tap into a bucket. Do this a few more times and now you have buckets full of milk. Walk out of the milking barn and through a gate... and feed hungry/thirsty calves warm milk. You feed them in a large plastic container with things so they can eat/drink.
They would all crowd to one side when they could be on the other side. Silly calfs.

They would suck on your fingers.
The youngest group eating.

Now that the cows are milked and the calves are fed, the cows have to go to a pasture. Twice now I have gotten to ride a quad bike around the farm to a pasture right across the street. Each day the cows boundaries are made smaller. It is on a twenty-one day system and each day they get more grass. And now the cows are in the pasture.

Today I learned that cows are picky about grass. If the grass is too long they will not eat it. If the grass is too short they will not eat. It need to be just right. So we need to cut the grass. They have a machine that folds out into a huge lawn mower by the pull of a rope. It is attached to a tractor and pulled around. Today, I got to ride in the tractor as the grass was cut.

The milking and feeding happens in the morning and evening the other stuff does not though new stuff happen instead. Then one farm day is done.

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